Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Enroll In the Best One Near Northport Alabama
Now it’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician degree or certificate program near Northport AL in order to receive the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? When looking for pharmacy technician programs, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While tuition and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Internship and job placement programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Northport AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Northport AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Northport pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are many pharmacy technician schools to select from in the Northport AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Northport home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you need to consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it might assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Northport AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the programs have a working relationship with Northport AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Northport AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Northport AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Northport Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the best pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the right training and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Northport Alabama.